Anyone familiar with CASA?

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romothesavior
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Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:07 pm

I'm sure most people are at least "familiar" with it, but have any of you TLSers been a Court Appointed Special Advocated or know someone who has been one? I have a screening interview for it today and I'm not sure what to expect. They said the interview can take 1 1/2-2 hours, which is quite an interview just to volunteer for a non-profit organization.

I liked what I heard about it when I went to the informational meeting, and I am pretty sure I will do it if I'm selected. However, I do know it is a time commitment and it is a serious program. If anyone has any advice or thoughts on the program (impressions, time commitment, how fulfilling it is, how difficult it is, etc.), I'd greatly appreciate it.

nietzsche13
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby nietzsche13 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:19 pm

CASA is a great program. The interview is not too bad. They basically ask you why CASA. Why do you want to work with children. What do you bring to the table. If you are a male, you get bonus points right away. A younger male, even more so. In my area, there are only 4 out of nearly 35 who are male. Two of us are under 30, the other two are 50+.

As for the program itself, the training can be a little tedious and time consuming depending on how it is structured, but it is a necessary evil. You do learn during it. My training was 2.5 hours, twice a week, for 6 weeks. After that the amount of time and work you put in is up to you. Most of the time you spend on your case can be at home. Phone calls and emails are the best. Emails work when you want what someone says documented, phone calls when you need some in depth answers. If you know how to ask probing questions, you will be surprised what you learn. You are supposed to visit your child at least once a month, but more is better. The child I represent lives two hours away due to some special circumstances (most children are kept in or near the county where the case is as to allow for ease of travel for parents/resource parents/ DFYS workers). The first few meetings with a child will be short and not much said as they have walls you must overcome

The fewest amount of hours I have spent in a month (you keep a log) on my case is 6 hours. I typically spend over 20 though as I found the program extremely rewarding and have organized 2 fundraisers, and currently doing a third The work is not difficult, but some of it can be sad. I have the ability to detach myself, so I deal with it well. Some other CASA memebers do not handle everything smoothly, but never found anyone who quit because they could not take the stress.

Finally, I have received comments from some of my acceptance letters mentioning the program. Not sure if that matters to you, but the legal field seems to value the program

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romothesavior
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:28 pm

Thanks for the great response, nietzsche. Exactly what I was looking to hear. The training sounds like it may not be a lot of fun (I think ours here is like 2.5 hours once a day for ten weeks). But it sounds like a great program and it is something I care a lot about, so I think I'd be good for it. And while it isn't the reason I'm doing it, I do think it looks good on the resume and I've heard that the legal community looks highly upon it.

I'm excited to get started with it.

nietzsche13
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby nietzsche13 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 12:31 pm

I stumbled into the program when looking for volunteer work. The program sparked something within me. It is really worthwhile. The additional benefits I have found from it after entering the program have made it even better.

If there is a type of case you do not want to be on (sexual abuse tends to be a big one) let the supervisors know during training. They tend to be pretty good at making sure the vounteers are not stressed.

One thing I will say that can be annoying, be prepared to call and call and call to get information. Doc and shrinks do not like to give out info, even though CASA is entitled to it. Sometimes those evaluations make a differece,

mythosopher
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby mythosopher » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:29 pm

My friend volunteers as a CASA and she seems to like it. She doesn't have any background with children really, so don't be afraid that experience will be a huge thing.

Then again, she lives in the boondocks, so maybe they were desperate.

Anyhow, she likes it. It can be tough seeing the kids have to go through the legal proceedings, but she does feel fulfilled when she helps.

jkay
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby jkay » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:25 pm

I'm a CASA. It can be hard and demanding, but you serve an essential purpose that no one else in the system can.

I am not sure what to think of law school students becoming CASAs when they will probably be moving in a year or two...but I guess the immediate need outweighs the future lost relationship with the child.

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romothesavior
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby romothesavior » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:42 pm

I had my interview yesterday and it went really well. The woman told me that pending my background check (which will be fine) I will start in June. Really excited about it.
jkay wrote:I'm a CASA. It can be hard and demanding, but you serve an essential purpose that no one else in the system can.

I am not sure what to think of law school students becoming CASAs when they will probably be moving in a year or two...but I guess the immediate need outweighs the future lost relationship with the child.

My goal is to stay in St. Louis long term, so I hope to be a CASA both in law school and throughout my career. And if I did end up somewhere else, I could always become a CASA elsewhere. I definitely don't want to hurt my relationship with the child though, so I do understand where you're coming from.

nietzsche13
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Re: Anyone familiar with CASA?

Postby nietzsche13 » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:13 pm

The minimum requirement is one year. My supervisor knew I was leaving this coming August when I applied last January. Some stay longer, as one volunteer has been at it for 10 years, but in various counties within my state.

If you transfer states you will have to retrain (from my understanding). But it seems that can be waived depending how long you have been a CASA. In my class we had a transfer. She came sporadically and then for our swearing in.

And if you work hard, the position is not only fulfiling but there is room for upward mobilty. I was asked if I would like to be a board member upon my volunteer resignation prior to law school. I accepted. A caveat is that I have organized several fundraisers bringing in close to $10,000 for the organization.

These fundraisers varied from beating the street to solicit donations from county businesses, to holding actual events




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